Mark Purdon's big move

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Today is a significant one for Mark Purdon.

It is "day one" for his top trotter Oscar Bonavena as he embarks on a new campaign and the champion trainer-driver will also be re-united with reigning Horse of the Year Millwood Nike.

Both have followed Purdon north, joining him at his new base in the Waikato.

Last month Purdon made the move to join partner and well-known Matamata vet Barbara Hunter. Already he's bought a house "less than five minutes drive" from the Matamata Racecourse.

He'll use one of Matamata's all-weather race tracks to prepare his star-studded team of two.

"I'm really looking forward to it."

"The track looks like it's got a great top to it, and there's also a sand track, a beautiful pool as well as a treadmill and a walker."

The winner of all 17 of her starts, the now four-year-old Millwood Nike has not raced since December last year after suffering a small tear in a front leg tendon.

"I'll just bring her up quietly and I've told the owners that I'll let her tell me when she's ready (for a race day return)."

"But the prognosis is good - it was a 10 per cent tear."

As well as continuing his racing career Oscar Bonavena, the Majestic Son eight-year-old, will be offered as a stallion for the first time this breeding season ($2500 plus GST).

It's very early days but Purdon is hopeful the winner of 26 races and more than $850K will be popular.

"If he got up to 40 mares I'd be rapt."

Owned by Purdon and ex-pat Kiwi and top North American trainer Chris Ryder, Oscar Bonavena last raced on May 24 when he was second to the all-conquering Just Believe in the Reharvest Rowe Cup.

Both are stabled close to the racecourse along with Purdon's small team of gallopers. They are officially trained by Glenn Old but Purdon is very much involved.

"I give Glenn a hand and try and further my knowledge a bit," he says.

And that's required one big change in particular.

"I'm up at 3am and at the track at 3.30. All the big trainers are up early and they get finished early and they seem to like that system, I've warmed to it, initially I thought it was the middle of the night."

"The track is all lit up - it's like a race night at Alexandra Park!"

 

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